Celebrating 10 years of girl-child transformation through education

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The mayor of Bugesera district and Jessica's team from the US joined the students to celebrate the 10th anniversary. (Julius Bizimungu)

Grace Umutesi is a recipient of the Howard Buffett scholarship to Earth University in Costa Rica. She is studying agriculture and hopes to become the Rwandan minister for agriculture in the future. Umutesi is one of the first secondary school graduates supported under Abari B’Inyamata, formerly known as Richard’s Rwanda Impuhwe. She completed her secondary school at Gashora Girls Academy based in Bugesera District.

“I joined Richard’s Rwanda aged 11. I was very needy and Richard’s Rwanda really saved me. My aunt who raised me had always struggled looking for my school fees, uniform, books and basic requirements for my primary education,” she recalls.

“Richard’s Rwanda ensured I got everything that the school acquired, and this became a great opportunity that opened my eyes to the outside world. I was very amazed to see Jessica Markowitz, the founder of the initiative, having such a loving heart and crossing oceans to support girls to pursue their education,” she said.

Jessica Mbabazi, another beneficiary who has just completed her secondary school and currently stays with her mother in Nyamata,  Bugesera District, says she joined the project while in primary five.

“I was very young then and we were so poor at home because my mother had no job.  I became a scholar of the Imbuto Foundation funded by Richard’s Rwanda,” she notes.

These are some of the many testimonies from over 80 girls who have been benefiting from educational and health support provided by the partnership of the two organisations.

The achievement made through the lives of these girls and their families is what was being celebrated last week when the group along with Bugesera District officials gathered in Nyamata to mark their tenth anniversary.

“I remember when I first met Richard in my home in 2006 and from that moment on my life has forever changed. I was introduced to this beautiful country and the amazing community of Nyamata ten years ago. This has truly been the most important ten years of my life that will forever impact me, my family, friends and community,” said Markowitz, the founder of the organisation.

Markowitz started the organisation at the age of eleven when she met Richard Kananga who by that time was working with the Rwandan Unity and Reconciliation Commission.

“Richard was visiting the USA then talking about Rwanda’s tragic history of the Genocide. I just had to do something to help after hearing all about the Genocide against the Tutsi. I began generating support from the local community, talking with fellow students and organising sales and school supply drives,” she narrated.

On his part, Kananga expressed gratitude over the results of the initiative that was started by a young girl.

“In this journey I have learnt that compassion is not learnt in schools but born through action,” he said.